Mission: One of our main goals is to examine the possible correlation between repeated concussions and late deterioration of brain function, as in CTE. This problem is suspected to be especially frequent after repeated concussion in sports, but may also occur after concussions in other activities including motor vehicle crashes, industrial injuries or falls.
Methods: We ask current and retired professional football and hockey players, and other professional athletes suffering from the after-effects of repeated concussions to undergo neurological, neuropsychiatric, and neuropsychological assessment and MRI brain scans.
We are also asking professional athletes and their families and members of the public who are interested in willing their brains to the Canadian Sports Concussion Project at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre with the consent and full knowledge of their families and doctors.
Through these two methods of research, our team is performing a clinical-MRI-neuropathological research analysis of these cases to determine the exact mechanisms involved in producing post traumatic brain degeneration which has been called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This condition is characterized by the deposition in the brain of an abnormal protein called tau, and by atrophy of the brain. At present there is no effective treatment for this condition which is characterized clinically by a progressive loss of cognitive functions and the ultimate development of dementia. There is also some evidence that repetitive trauma may also produce symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease).
Our Latest Research: In May 2013, the Canadian Sports Concussion Project research team published their findings on the first six autopsied brains of former CFL professional football players in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience a medical journal. Each of these players had a history of concussions and, with the support and consent of each of the players' families, had donated their brains to the research project.
The findings were that three of the six players had acquired Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).Our research team discovered that although all the players had shown signs of late neurocognitive decline, not all of them showed signs of CTE. The three players without CTE had pathological diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson's disease. This shows how important it is to continue this study. You can read the full article at: http://www.frontiersin.org/Human_Neuroscience/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00222/abstract